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Written for my EN101 class for an assignment due September 24. This is my final draft, on which I got perfect marks. The assignment was to write a descriptive narrative of a life-changing moment or event in our childhood. In my original draft I had trouble finding an overarching theme, but I think it really came together on the final draft. I'm really very proud of it, and I'd love to know what you think.


Scarring Memories

I scar easily, my skin showing with precision exactly how much wear and tear it’s been put through. I have what I think is a surgery scar on my back, what looks like a scar from chickenpox on my knee, and various other scars on my hands and arms and feet that come with no story except that I must have been young and stupid. And around my ankles I have the remains of what used to be two scars, going around my ankles in an unbroken line. Even though they no longer go all the way around both of my ankles, they are still the largest scars on my body and the ones I remember getting with the least amount of clarity. But they are there, and their physical appearance forces me to remember, or at least to try. It is hard to say, now, what I can actually remember and what my mind has filled in thanks to my mother and my brother. But what I can remember is caught forever in my mind like a series of photographs, saturated with color and pain: the color from the where and when, and the pain from the even itself.

It was summer on Martha’s Vineyard and I was young. I don’t remember how young as all the summers there have blended into one hot day filled with beach sand and stormy weather and running barefoot in the sun on the springy crabgrass. I only ran barefoot on the crabgrass until I was 9, at which point I became so sure of my budding womanhood (as far away as it was) that I would not go outside without shoes for fear of being unladylike. But before that I was a feral child with a tangled lions mane of curls and a million bug bites, making me like a topographical map of the Andes.

My brother was still young, too, and I was however young he was minus two. Very young indeed, to him. I know he was still young because I can remember his hair. As straight as mine was wild and as dark as mine was sun bleached, his head was the opposite of mine in every way and it was like this until he was almost 11 at which point he got a buzz cut and it all grew back as coarse and unmanageable as a wire brush. And I worshiped him because I was young and he seemed so much older. Everything he did I would do, and with a mere two years between us, though it was like a chasm between us then, I was fully able to follow him everywhere he went. I would go running after him without a care, just trying to be included in whatever mess he was getting himself into. And it was blindly following him that got me in trouble, more often than not. I would climb his trees and dirty my dresses, or chase him and his friends down the beach and cut my foot on an errant shell. Or he would lock himself in his room and I would sit and sob at the thought of fun I could not participate in, only to be chased away from his door by my mother, her intentions always to placate and not, as I felt, to shun me. On the day I write about now I did not get into any trouble with my brother, or my mother, but just in trouble in general.

My brother almost always had rope with him then, a habit that has not much changed in the past decade. He was proud of the knots that he had taught himself, his chest puffed up like a show dog as he unveiled his collection in front of any new friend. On that day, though, there were no knots, just a long tail of rope trailing after him as he ran along the side of our weather beaten summer home. And I was chasing him with all I had, chasing after him not to chase him or to catch up with him, but just to be with him and do as he did. Or perhaps I wanted to catch him or to get his attention because I stepped on that rope he was dragging, hoping to bring him to a halt.

I remember this moment perfectly, but as if I viewed it from my mother’s eyes, sitting on the sun bleached porch as she was, watching her baby go down. The second that my foot landed so firmly on that rope, it lashed around my ankles like an angry snake, making a figure eight and yanking me off my feet as if I was a rodeo bull to be trussed and tied. My head hit the ground before my back did and I was pulled along by my unsuspecting tormentor, my innocent older brother, for an eternity of maybe half a second. I didn’t have time to think, didn’t have time to scream, before the rope was gone from my ankles and replaced by an astonishing pain, burning like fire, like the center of the sun. I could see nothing, feel nothing, and hear nothing but the pain and the pounding of blood in my ears. And then the fire was in my throat as I screamed bloody murder. Never in my life have I ever again screamed so loudly, because never in my life have I ever again been in so much pain.

I asked my mother not too long ago what she remembered of the event. Like myself, she can’t remember how old I was or what part of the summer it was, or even any time after I went down and started screaming. She can tell the story beautifully, and make the memory come alive before my eyes, but it is a ten second story of a two second event. She doesn’t remember it as a linear event, but instead tells the story in the photographs she sees in her minds. “It was so ephemeral,” she says. “I have a half-second mental image, like a video image in my head.” What happened afterwards, I would ask her, any time she recalls the event. She shrugs and says she doesn’t know. And to her it isn’t important. It’s not the beginning or the end of the story, the parts I can’t remember, that are important, but the exact moment: That moment when I was branded for life, not just on my skin but in my mind. There are fleeting memories of the aftermath, more like assumptions based on how I know I must have acted: excited to show off my new scars, never self conscious about wearing shorts or a skirt. But these assumed memories pale in comparison to the split second video that my mother describes so eloquently. Perhaps, then, it isn’t so important to remember the whole thing. It bothered me at the start, that I shouldn’t remember the whole of my linear life, but now I can only assume that it doesn’t matter, or else I would remember it. Perhaps our lives aren’t to be remembered in a linear fashion, but as drops in time that shape us, brand us, utterly as ourselves.


I've been meaning to get back to that entry about my job at the clinic, as my friend luvluvg expressed concern at a patient causing me such emotional distress, and that's something I'd like to address. I'll try to get to that within the week.

A Year in the Life of a Student

A year in the life of a student, be they in elementary school, high school, or college, is not so much a year as 9 months. The other three months are taken up with summer holiday, an end of year activity that does not count in the mind of the student. He is not in class, therefore it is not really time spent. This remains true up until late August, at which point he finds he has no more time to waste, and so he bemoans the loss of the three-month long place holder.
The remaining nine months are usually split into two, sometimes three, sections called “semesters”, each of which revolves around yet another vacation. The first semester begins in September, lasting until mid December, ending with a winter holiday which can last up to two weeks. Then the year continues in January through May, with a break around April for spring. Finally, the year ends in June, and the time wasting begins anew.
The breakdown of the student’s year continues even further. Each semester is broken down into weeks, which consist of seven days. Five of these days are spent working or studying, and two are spent in the same manner as the three-month break: a time wasting spree. The other five days of the week are spent much like the 9 months of the student year. Namely, the student dreams about those days in which they get to goof off.
Broken down even further, the five days of the working week are split into periods of time. These periods can consist of class, sports, clubs, eating, or sleeping. There are other activities, but they are not given specific allotments of time and so much beg, borrow, and steal from the other periods. The period allotted to sleep is considered almost holy, and is only to be lessened in case of emergency or term paper. Next in importance is eating, followed by sports and clubs (equally important), and lastly is class time. It should be noted that the time allotted for homework has long since been usurped by sleep, and so it now falls into the category of begging, borrowing, or stealing.
The five basic time groups (class, sports, clubs, eating, and sleeping) are made up of hours which in turn are made up of minutes, which are in turn made up of seconds, not all of which will be spent dreaming about what else they could be doing when not in class, but it does make up a good percentage. Indeed, over the course of one year in the life of a student, that student will dream more about the end of the year then he will spend in the year itself. And then, thankfully, comes summer.


Written for my English 101 class on Thursday, October 15th.

I thought this was a pretty funny way to approach the idea of an essay written using the method of division or analysis. One of the examples we were given was a chemist, breaking down a drink to it's component parts, each time going further and further. And let's be serious. Summer holiday isn't part of the year at all. It's a blessed time of sweet freedom.


Just kidding!

Posted on 2009.10.08 at 21:26
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So I stopped writing. My mistake. Well, I tried writing something else that I thought I would be able to continue and I just couldn't. And there was really a few reasons for this.

#1: I just couldn't do it! I meant to write every Wednesday or something and honestly, I just couldn't bring myself to stick to that schedule.
#2: I felt like I didn't have enough interesting things to write about. My days consisted mainly of filing, making appointments, and not understanding Spanish.
#3: Ms. T.

Ms. T was a patient of mine who was in the Suboxone group, which meets once a month. Suboxone is a lot like Methadone, but it's better. Both are a treatment for opiate abuse (mainly heroin), but unlike Methadone Suboxone can be given to the patient in a 30 day supply and they don't need to line up for it every day. It helps a lot of people feel more in control of their recovery and, quite honestly, it works better. So at Andromeda, the clinic I worked at (ps I quit in August which is why I'm writing again now) we had these meetings once a month. There were about 25 registered patients at the time I left, and Ms. T had been there the longest.

Ms. T is crazy. Legitimately insane. Screaming, kicking, crying, insane. But only with me. So Ms. T would call me up on my phone line and start yelling about how she didn't have her medication, how she couldn't live her life like this, how I was ruining everything, etc etc. And I would get so frustrated and so upset that I would start to cry, right there on the phone in the reception area where everyone could see me. I would try to reason with myself that she's an addict, that she's going through pain I can't even begin to understand, that she's really struggling and it's not her fault that she's frustrated, nothing made it any better. I would run to the bathroom and just cry and cry until I felt better, at which point I would return to the reception area and everyone would treat me like glass and I would feel horrible again.

The worst part about this whole thing is that it would be a fantastic thing to write about! I would compose sentences in my head about how I would "not be responsible for dragging you, kicking and screaming into sobriety" and how this was "a battle of daemons within and without but as I am totally without, it is your battle to fight." But every time I sat down to try and write out the whole thing I would just break. I couldn't do it. I would get so upset all over again that I just couldn't even think straight. So, I told myself, wait. Wait until you're not upset and you can write about it dispassionately and then everything will flow.

And so I waited. And waited. And then I would relax enough for all of three seconds before something else came up and then I was upset again. It would be my boss expecting a million things for free (I'll get into this later) or Justiz threatening to kill me (have I told you about those crazy Cubans yet?) or it was grant writing season again, which never ends really but then all of a sudden it was a million hours later and the story was lost. And new ones would come up and linger in my mind and then they were lost as well. I stopped writing and I felt as though I never had time to pick it back up again and before I knew it it's October of the next year and what have I done?

So I'm back. I left you, baby, but I'm back. For now. Like that boomerang boyfriend who can't seem to decide if he's coming or going, I'm back. It helps that I'm taking an English course right now, so I'm actually being forced to write. I'm going to start posting my essays here, as well as whatever reading questions I've done for class that I thought I did especially well on. And in that manner we are going to get back together, to mend our burned bridges, and start over fresh.

So what must I write about before we can start our new journey? My boss. The crazy Cubans. And leaving Andromeda. Ok. So here we go!

Aaaaaafter I get a cup of tea.


So long and thanks for all the fish.

Posted on 2008.08.22 at 17:21
A blatantlystolen title, perhaps, but I am nothing if not unoriginal.

—Synonyms 4. tip, bound, limit, terminus. 5. End, close, conclusion, finish, outcome refer to the termination of something. End implies a natural termination or completion, or an attainment of purpose: the end of a day, of a race; to some good end. Close often implies a planned rounding off of something in process: the close of a conference. Conclusion suggests a decision or arrangement: All evidence leads to this conclusion; the conclusion of peace terms. Finish emphasizes completion of something begun: a fight to the finish. Outcome suggests the issue of something that was in doubt: the outcome of a game. 7. See aim.

The time has come, the blogger said, to speak of ending things.

Speakingenglish has been fun, as has speaking in english, but I think I'm done with this for now. For a while. Maybe forever.

But, on the plus side, I have begun my not-quite novella: Medically, Yours. Find it, and me, at http://katharinesofia.blogspot.com/

Ok, I think we're done here.


Things I've written.

Posted on 2008.07.28 at 16:40
I am in a bit of a rut, so instead of trying to force anything I'm going to give you guys what I wrote back when I wasn't in such a poor frame of mind.

First, some free verse.

Posted on 2006.08.08 at 16:35
I struggle and strain
for the words that escape me
as they slip away, slip away
as leaves on the breeze.
Of mountains and sailors
and deep dreamy sleeping,
of women and rocks
and transformations between.
And were it not for you,
dear traveling companion,
I'd let them slip away, slip away
stories untold.
But because I love you,
and treasure you madly,
I'll fly and I'll capture
these words that escape me
and trap them forever
in paper and ink.

(I admit that this was all posted on my writing journal, but I think I'll refrain from giving you its name.)

Then a bit of heartache.

Coffee Tears
Posted on 2006.05.23 at 16:29
Two cups of coffee
sat next to each other.
I drank them both.
They were cold
and I miss you.

And then a bit of drabble.

I Have Not
Posted on 2006.11.29 at 19:06
I have my paper, my pens and my books. I have sweaters, shirts, jeans. I have rocks and flowers and honey. I have a loving family, wonderful friends, a good life. I have money in the bank, shoes on my feet, wind in my hair. I have things to learn, places to go, experiences to have.

I have I have I have.

I have a room that isn't mine.
I have pockets that drop my change and a locket with no picture.

I have a pulse. I have a diaphragm that expands that creates a vacuum that fills my lungs with air that keeps me alive.

I have pink cheeks and curly hair and pierced ears. I have scars on my hands and my elbows and my back that remind me of some of what I've lost.

I have lost something. I have not looked for it but I have already thought about giving up because I have no idea what it was.

This last one is my gift to you. On a bad day, and I have so many bad days, I can't stand to look inside my own mind, for fear of what I'll find. But on good days, and I have so very few good days, it's clear and it makes sense and I know who I am. This was written on a very good day.

Building Blocks
Posted on 2006.10.27 at 13:12
How does one write about writer's block? Where do I begin? How tall do I stack these blocks before they topple down on me and, at the very least, bruise my ego?

The weather is uninspiring. Clouds do not so much cover as swallow the sky. It rains in gauzy sheets of silver before breaking for tea and letting the sun come in from outside. It's cold enough to make my finger ache. They are clay that has been left out too long: dry and cracked but still just mold-able enough for me to try.

I am building, block by block, a wall around my mind. Inside there is laughter and words, colors and songs and dance. There is action and thoughts outside the box inside this wall in my head. On the other side is the desk and chair, the books and theories and experiments and thick thick letter-words of nothing. And I sit on top of this wall in my head and go fishing inside the wall for just enough to make the student sitting at her desk come alive.

Story-koi swim in circles at the bottom of the well, snapping at the pebbles I drop just to tease them.

Intermission is at exactly 1:21. We all stop and turn, feet rooted, faces angled up up up at the gaseous, burning, fiery, wonderful sun. It is turned off at exactly 1:27. Energy prices are too high, they say. That's alright. The water is warm down in the well.

I love that last line. Where I am now the sun shines more, the sunshine energy crisis in space having been solved for another few months, but still I find myself warming my toes and fingers in this well, playing with these swimming thoughts with hope to give them shape.

I can separate my thoughts into levels:
The new thoughts, flashing brightly as they skim the top of the water, are distracted easily by what I toss to them. They snap at each other, vying for attention and the honour of being the center of that moment's span of attention.
Then there are the more mature thoughts, swimming beneath the excited, flashy thoughts, calmly waiting their turn. They do taunt me, a bit, with the look they have, the words they wish to implant in me. These are long-standing thoughts and not all of them are good.
It is the bottom thoughts that intrigue me. The dark-scaled flashes of primal life that pay no attention to what I have on my mind now. They do not so much wait their turn as wait for the correct moment to strike and leave me with weak knees and lungs full of well-water. They don't rise to my bait but they are mine, and I cannot help but look for them.

I am hovering outside the well today. I'm afraid that swimming will give me cramps.


Simple Pleasures

Posted on 2008.07.24 at 12:19
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There are few things in life I like more than doing my job right. My family ranks highest, of course, and the pleasure I get from being with my friends is a close second. But even a good beer does not give me the deep seated satisfaction that comes from success born from my own drive.

Today is a day to relish this simple pleasure.

I work at a transcultural medical clinic now, and I do my best to read the Washington Post every day. These two events have nothing in common, for the most part, so imagine my surprise when for one day they ran into each other at break-neck speed.

Andromeda Transcultural Health,where I work (and I will dispense with fake names from now on because, really, if anyone is reading this who does not know exactly who I am speak now or do not. I am who I am, and my friends are who they are and where I work is where I work and I have no memory for this many small falsehoods), is a free clinic in Washington that provides, among other programs, HIV/AIDS services for those in need. We provide testing, primary care, nutritional consulting, case management, and mental health services. In short, we do a lot. And most of our funding comes in the form of grants for HIV/AIDS services (and the amount of time I spend every day searching for untapped grants, especially for mental health, may well be the subject of another entry), so understandably we are proud of the services we provide. Background information well in place, we may move on to the rest of our story.

There's a little more back story (yes, I lied, it happens) but only enough to cover the fact that for lunch most days I go to a little cafe down the street and that I usually buy my paper there to read while I wait for my sandwich. On the fateful day of yesterday I walked in, was greeted with the usual "Hey, Boo" from the girl behind the counter (yes, I go in often enough that they know me and we have nicknames for each other, now hush) and grabbed the Post from the shelf as I went to make my order.

"Oh, honey, I knew you were going to get the paper today. Just look at that article."
"Come on, I buy the paper every day."
"Yeah, but I swear that article was put there just for you."

Sure enough, the front page article of the Washington Post yesterday was entitled "AIDS Among Latinos on Rise." Oh my God, I thought, this is perfect. There's even a little article about AIDS among Hispanics in DC. I can't believe that no one told me when we got interviewed for this. If we got interviewed for this.

As I waited for my sandwich I started to read. The main article had interviews in it from people out in California, so the fact that Andromeda wasn't mentioned there didn't irk me so much. What got me hopping mad was the fact that only one clinic from DC was interviewed for the side article and it wasn't us. Andromeda was started back in 1970 specifically for the Hispanic population of DC. I wouldn't be surprised if we were the oldest such clinic in the city. But were we interviewed? No. Were we contacted? No. Were we even mentioned? Of course not! That would be too simple.

I changed my order to go and could hear the woman behind the counter cheering me on as I ran out. Now I just needed to figure out who to go and get.

I ran into Antonio's office, as he is basically The Guy to talk to about our HIV/AIDS program and, handily enough, the coordinator of our first annual fund raising even for our HIV/AIDS program which is happening tomorrow (contact me for tickets) and slapped the paper down in front of him.

"Did you know about this?"
"Ah, yes, I was just looking for it. I heard about that article."
"Well, I think you should contact them and tell them about the Gala Event (contact me for tickets) and about our program and about Andromeda."
"Tell you what, beautiful. I am very busy with a million things. Why don't you do it."

And then I guess I did. I edited his press release, wrote an email to the reporter who wrote the article about DC, sent it again to her Post email address, called her up to make sure she got it, and otherwise harassed her via technology to make sure she knew about us. And I felt pretty good about that.

Then today my boss, who has been on vacation since Saturday, called me.

"Chica," he said "what is this crap in the Washington Post? We are not mentioned anywhere!"
"I know. I took care of it."
"We should call them or email them or something-"
"I did already."
"-because this is a bunch of crap. They never contact us because Andromeda doesn't-"
"Ricardo, I took care of it."
"-get it's name out there and we need to do more politicking and you took care of it?"
"Yeah, I sent two emails and I made a phone call."
"Oh, okay. Good job. Remind me to do a follow-up call today. Ciao."

And that was that. I don't know if anything will actually come of it or not, if the Post will run a piece on us or not, or even if they'll remember tomorrow that we or our fund raising event (contact me for tickets) exist, but for today, the fact that I saw it and it pissed me off and I took care of it the best I could, that makes me pretty happy. And I did it all before my boss even noticed. Now, if you don't mind, I'm going to get back to work, smugness well intact.



Posted on 2008.07.10 at 09:35
It occurs to me that I wrote that last catch-up post while I was in kind of a down down diggity down mood and I forgot to mention that I'm happy.

I think I said that I was sort of happy, or that I thought I was happy, or whatever. I suppose that was me waxing poetic. Or, rather, it's me not writing happy well. I write sad well, but not happy.

When I am happy in person (not just on the internets) I tend to get all speechless, wreathed in smiles instead of vowels. So writing about being happy strikes me as being somewhat silly. There are only so many times I can type in a smile, or write _________________!!! and hope that someone understands it's not a fill in the blank, but really what I'm saying.

So yes, I'm happy. I'm doing exciting things and living somewhere I love and I have a whole new world of possibilities ahead of me right now. A few months ago I imagined myself standing at the edge of a cliff, waiting to fall or fly and just seeing myself falling in all my waking dreams. I don't know yet if I'm flying, but I'm certainly wobbling myself to greater heights.


Playing Catch-up

Posted on 2008.07.07 at 14:21
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I don't really know what to say right here. It's been, God, months since I've written anything. And a lot has happened.

I've left Edinburgh. Maybe not for forever, but certainly for right now. And for a few reasons.

First of all, and most of all, is my ever waning love for Psychology. It started out as something to help me change the world, to help people, but it's turned into a golden ball and chain. Still wonderful, and still something I like, but it's not letting me get anywhere. And I always liked silver anyway.

So what is my precious metal? What is that something that will find the mettle in me and draw it out and help me make something beautiful from it?

I'm waxing poetic, but it's not all so pretty as that. I'm not in trouble, yet, but there's always tomorrow. I just have to figure out what I'm going to do with myself between the ever wasting now and the always looming future.

What do I want? I want to be a doctor, to help fix the world one person at a time. I want a life outside of school and money in my pocket and if I go to medical school will I lose both of those? I want to succeed.

I want to speak Farsi fluently, travel the world, and teach somewhere desperately in need.

I don't know how much of this I can achieve, given the time frame I've given myself. Finish all this before I die? Hell of a deadline.

So where am I right now? Now I am home, a displaced yank who has been replanted in her old pot, and feeling rather off-kilter. I still speak with an accent, though who's accent it is remains to be seen. I'm working at a medical clinic and loving it. My boss, and isn't he a story for another day, is disappointed that I don't fluently speak Spanish after just three weeks. I guess I'll have to step that up a notch.

I think I'm happy. I know I'm not unhappy. I miss the cold and the rain and the cloudy skies. I miss bundling up for warmth, going for a pint with my mates, and walking around the Meadows to clear my head. And I will, I think, forever. So I'll just have to go back someday. Damn.

But for now I am here, with a heartbeat and some tea, and I think I've got a pretty good deal after all.


Taking Things Into Account

Posted on 2007.12.20 at 00:41
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I know this year isn't almost over and, actually, that at nearly one o'clock in the morning on the twentieth of December I still have eleven days left to go, but I still want to do this now, probably because it's almost one o'clock in the morning on the twentieth of December and I haven't been here in a while.

So what has happened this year? Oh, only about a million things. This past year (in some kind of chronological order) I:
-returned to Scotland for my second semester of first year, and then the first of second.
-gained a boyfriend. A lovely Irish boy named Cillian with a deep voice and slanted smile.
-broke up with said boyfriend. It was done with quiet words and a hug goodbye and that same slanted smile, sadder then the last time I had seen it.
-made new friends.
-decided to live with Mas and Cassie. Add the essence of one Nick, and a bit of Bella to taste. Mix well.
-found a flat. The credit goes to Bella for this one, actually, and for that I do still love her.
-went off my medication. Then back on. Then off again. Saw a shrink, shrunk a shirt, other amusing phrases. Nearly bi-polar, he said, but nearly was never enough for me so I sank that ship and swam for Sanity.
-went home for Easter, for no good reason at all (miss you family love dc god bless home friends familiarity), really.
-went on a new medication.
-went back to Scotland. In an amusing turn of events I decided the medication was giving me heart palpitations and went off it again. Hilarity ensues!
-passed my exams, packed up, went home. Small words for such strife. Though the Great Depression has also been described, by me, as "that time when people weren't really all that well off."
-bummed around. Looked for a job. Got said job, basically, and then turned it down. Looked for another job. Wore a lot of nice clothing. Got a job as a nurse at a summer camp with one of my best friends. Hilarity, once again, reared its ugly head.
-paid some bills, paid my mother back for said bills, got into a bit of trouble. Summer in the sun? I wished for it every day.
-kissed a lot of boys. This one was not, perhaps, the best thing to do but it was sure was a lot of fun at the time. It should be noted that I recently decided that when introducing myself to new people I should say "Hello, my name is Kari and I like cupcakes and making out" as this really is all that there is to me. Cupcakes did not make an appearance this past summer, so I had to double up on the other one. Perfect sense!
-went back to Scotland a wee bit early. There might have been a boy to blame for this.
-turned 20.
-looked for a job.
-signed up for classes (Psychology, Persian, Origin and Diversity of Life).
-got a job. Can you see the twist as it comes up? Yes, I turned this one down, too.
-moped for a bit.
-got another job. I'm glad I kept this one, if only for entertainment value. At the grand pay scale of five pounds an hour, I am paid to make sandwiches, banter with my boss, and smile at people for around two and a half hours a day. I couldn't be happier.
-had my best friend visit. Then she stayed. And stayed. And stayed. Due to this extended stay on her part, Hilarity would not go away, no matter how hard we tried to stay somber. Curses!
-had exams.
-decided to stay in Scotland for Christmas and the Near Year because I am Some Kind of Stupid about a Boy. Good thing Mum and Brother are coming to stay. I like Capital Letters.

I don't know how much I learned this year. Technically I learned about ANOVAs and t-tests (I'm sorry, Statistics, but you will never be my star-crossed lover), about how to talk in the Past Imperfect in Persian, and why organisms are so diverse. I learned how to pay my bills on time, though that one is an on-going struggle, how to fight with people you live with, and that fish die if their water is too cold. Or if you over-feed them. I learned that my father has Alzheimer's, that my brother can actually have a worse track record with relationships than I can, and that my mother is only human.

I have not learned what I want to do with my life, though I have learned that basically all I like or want to do for the rest of my life start with the letter P. Psychology. Persian. Photography. Pediatric neurology. What is next, we all wonder. Ponies? Pontificating? Don't wonder too hard.

I still don't know how to argue with a loved one with any success, or how to get myself to believe the good things people say about me. I don't know how I'm going to survive without my friends beside me every step of the way, or what to do when I graduate. I don't even know what I'm going to have for breakfast tomorrow. But I'll share a secret with you:

I'm not too worried about it.


Indian Summer

Posted on 2007.10.01 at 15:03
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As a white American I find that there are a set of words that I do not say, either because there is a social stigma against them or because I personally don't feel comfortable with them. The Venn diagram of those two overlaps quite a bit in the middle. And I'm sure you can imagine what those words are.

So I was a bit shocked when, back last year at my very first rugby match, that age old tradition of The Wave came by and my friend Alex said, "Oh look! Everyone's doing a Mexican Wave!"

Did I say a bit shocked? I'm pretty sure I meant flabbergasted. I'm not sure Alex had ever seen a real, live Mexican in her life (they're not exactly common in the tri-kingdom area) so where had that term come from? She had no real answer for me and I am still looking out for it, but it got me thinking: Why is the phrase Indian Summer okay to say?

Ok, so the rugby game didn't actually get me thinking about it. It's been quite warm here the past day and a bit (a long stretch for Scotland), quite a surprise considering the blistering cold that featured last week. And so it's really the weather that started this all, first with memories of elementary school when I dressed in tights and some kind of velvety dress, only to be far too warm on the playground later, and hearing the phrase Indian Summer for the first time and wondering if, similar to the beautiful Persephone, indians came out only at a certain time of some years. I was never that politically correct but I did always know my Greek mythology.

I looked up Indian Summer just a minute ago and found:

A "spell of warm weather after the first frost," first recorded 1778, Amer.Eng., perhaps so called because it was first noted in regions inhabited by Indians, or because the Indians first described it to the Europeans. No evidence connects it with the color of fall leaves or a season of Indian attacks on settlements."

Well, good. At least it's not overtly negative. But perhaps it is. Is the phrase Mexican Wave so shocking to me because I have the concept of Mexicans as people lodged firmly in my brain (as should everyone else because, well, duh) and then Indian Summer is okay because we've basically killed all of their various cultures off or reduced them to Vegas shows and carvings in front of cigar shops?

But then, is the phrase a bad thing, even? Indian summers are my favorite time of year. Apples have started to form but it's warm enough out to go and pick them in short sleeves. The leaves are changing and because of the sun on my back I let myself enjoy them instead of just trudging past, face buried in my scarf. And I really do think it's a beautiful phrase.

Shades of gray, you see, can be just as numerous as the shades to be found outside. And I will go and find them now. Because it's warm and I am cold and that's just the right thing to do right now.

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